20th and 21st Centuries OBOES D'AMORE

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Preamble / Disclaimer

The opinions expressed below represent only my experience with various makes and models of oboe family instruments so far. Please keep in mind that how an oboe “takes the air” is different, often vastly different, from player to player. “Your air” is not “my air,” “your scale” is not likely to be “my scale,” your compensations will differ from my compensations, your reed will not be my reed, and your own “personal resonance” will be different from anyone else's “personal resonance” when playing an oboe instrument.

For many years past, collecting and trading oboe instruments, I have had opportunity to take on various makers to represent. I have declined all such opportunities. However, at the 2011 IDRS convention, I came across a make English horn that is in a league of its own, far superior to any other English horn by any other present day maker. The English horn I felt was (by far) the “best in show” at IRDS 2011 is by Puchner, and I have contracted to represent Puchner oboes, oboes d'amore, and English horns in North America. However, please know that my reviews of Puchner instruments below reflect my genuine assessments.

A note about tuners – I will offer the advice of my late friend Wally Bhosys, oboist with the Metropolitan Opera in the 1950s–1970s. It is not possible to separate the observer from the observed when playing to an electronic tuner. Simply put, playing to a tuner will produce completely arbitrary results. The only use possible good use for a tuner would be to test the length of a reed or bocal to establish a comfortable A. Beyond this, trust your own ears.

Subject to change!


BULGHERONI - Excellent ! Best value for money. The Bulgheroni bocals: junk ! Use Hiniker bocals or Loree bocals ! BIG sound, though not as sweet or with the range of expression as (say) Hiniker, Howarth, very recent Loree, or Marigaux. Impeccable voicing and scale.

CABART - best to AVOID- invariably some unbearably stuffy and out of tune notes

CHUDNOW - "Sierra" rare - excellent! Utterly sweet, though having a fairly limited projection, even with Hiniker bocals.

DUPIN - no information available.

FOSSATI - Some excellent. Well worth comparing to Bulgheroni. I have had one that was overly free blowing. I have had another that was "just so." Very sensitive to choice of bocal.

GORDET - German model by Kreul: Well worth a look, especially if the price is favorable. French model by Cabart: voiced by Storch, the Cabart/Gordet is perhaps worth a look if you happen to be on a tight budget.

GOUBET - Well made, though lacking an "A resonance key". Without an "A resonance key," the A and B will almost always be "stuffy"

GRAESSEL - Reputed to be excellent. Rare.

GUASTI - Well made. Very little undercutting on the tone holes. A different concept in many ways, though worth a look if you happen to have a limited budget.

HINIKER - In development. One prototype instrument completed to date. Impeccable in every respect. Great dynamic flexibility. The attack for the low notes is effortless. Like playing a fine oboe. L--o--n--g waiting list...

HOWARTH - Excellent in every respect. Best to use Hiniker bocals.

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JARDE' - Narrow bore, odd tone hole placement, Shorter in length than almost any other make. A very "sweet" sound. Likely made by Orsi. Some examples do not have an "A resonance key." Without an "A resonance key," the A and B will almost always be "stuffy."

JOSEPH - Still a "work in progress"

KREUL, KREUL / MIRAFONE - Some excellent+ ! The Hans Kreul oboe d'amore to low Bb (now owned by Nigel Robbins) may be the single finest oboe d'amore extant.

LINTON - Stencil by Cabart. AVOID. Almost invariably will have most distressing anomalies.

LOREE - Some of the Loree oboes d'amore made in the mid to late 1930s were excellent. Earlier examples seem to be "seat of the pants" experiments, some good, some indifferent, some worthy for use as a "fire poke" Some of the early "thin wall" oboes d'amore sound overly "bright" and very "thin."
The post war (WWII) instruments: I have come across a "CT" series I thought to be good overall, though it does not have a great dynamic range. I have come across far too many D, E, F, G, and H series Loree oboes d'amore I feel have a "zero rating" in the personality, character department, and nearly "zero rating" dynamic range or flexibility. I have (however) owned an exceptional EV series Loree oboe d'amore. Some of the late model the "late model" Loree oboes d'amore: sublime, especially N series and later.

LOUIS - Loree copy. Rare.

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MARIGAUX - Very, very good. Upper joint especially good.

MARKHARDT - Reputed to be a very good maker.

MOENNING - Many play beautifully, uttery sweet, warm and lyrical, though still having very good projection.

MOLLENHAUER - Reputed to be excellent !


PUCHNER - Absolutely first class, easily comparable Loree oboes d'amore made within the past five years. Huge resonance, though with heaps of personality, with heaps of personality, and elements of warmth and sweetness. Wood aged for 15 years. Engineering of the mechanism is second to none.

RIGOUTAT - Best to AVOID the instruments made before 2009 - narrow bore, odd tone hole sizing and placement. Disaster. Supposedly, the Rigoutat oboe d'amore has been completely redesigned. The new Rigoutat should be available in 2009.

A ROBERT - Inconsistent maker.

SCHULLER - Reputed to be very good.

THIBAUD - Likely Bulgheroni stencil. Some not finish voiced, some have bores over-reamed. Use caution.

TRIEBERT - Rare. Well worth pursuing

UEBEL - No information available.

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